DenimBlog Exclusive: Interview With Ben Talley Smith Of Earnest Sewn
Earnest Sewn have hired their original designer, Ben Talley Smith, as their new creative director of the company. We asked Ben a few questions on how he feels about the new position, his plans for the denim company and more. You can read the interview below.
DB: How do you feel about being back at Earnest Sewn?
I am extremely excited to be back at Earnest Sewn. Earnest Sewn is a brand that has so much to offer and already has such a great history and customer base. I feel confident that I’m the right person to come back in and evolve the brand further.
DB: As creative director, do you have any plans to grow the brand?
Yes of course! There are a ton of concepts that we started in the past that I would like to revisit. We had a premium concept called AEC&S that was probably before it’s time that I am looking forward to addressing again. Not necessarily AEC&S as it was but the concept of pushing the envelope in terms of wash technique and innovation. Earnest Sewn has always been about being on the cutting edge of wash and fabrication and I intend to continue that. Wash development has always been a passion of mine and I think it keeps a brand relevant. I plan to update and evolve the Earnest Sewn wash and style range in upcoming collections.
DB: Are you going to take it in a new direction at all or keep it the same?
Earnest Sewn has always had a great vision. I intend to continue with the Vintage Americana aesthetic mixed with Japanese detailing in Men’s while I am going to try to modernize the women’s direction slightly. I don’t intend to drastically change what the brand is about, as I believe it stands for integrity of product and innovation in the marketplace.
DB: Can we expect anything new and exciting from Earnest Sewn then?
Yes, starting with an update to the spring ‘12 line. We are working on an additional fashion capsule as well as a few fast track styles. I’m a firm believer in being able to react to what’s in the market and in making sure we have what’s current as well as new innovative designs. I am also focused on creating additional collaborations, as that has always been part of the Earnest Sewn history.
DB: How does it feel being creative director instead of a designer for the brand?
It actually doesn’t feel much different. While at Earnest Sewn in the past, I was allowed to design the product that I loved so it’s nice to be able to do that again. I’m excited to see what I can bring to the market on my own and with the Earnest team. We are working with the best factories and laundries in the industry so I feel confident that we can make amazing product that people will want to purchase.
DB: Have you learned a lot in your time away from the brand that can help make it better?
I have learned and grown significantly since leaving Earnest Sewn in 2009. Scott Morrison, the founder of Earnest Sewn has always been a close friend and mentor to me over the years – from ES to Evisu to 3×1, so I feel equipped for the task. I also learned a great deal from Marcus Wainwright and David Neville when I worked with them at Rag & Bone as they launched the Rag & Bone/JEAN line. The last few years have taught me about building an international brand and what the market is looking for. I feel honored to have been able to work for some of the industries most talented designers and hope that I can use all that I have learned from them to make Earnest Sewn as good as it can be.
DB: What sort of trends do you see for next season?
I see the continuation of colors done with new techniques as well as coating but you will just have to wait and see!
DB: And just for fun, how many jeans do you own? I’m sure it’s a lot!
Not as many as you might think. Like most people, I usually wear the same jeans until I come up with something new that I absolutely have to have, but in my archive in Brooklyn, probably around 250. I’ve always ended up with the amazing first developments that for one reason or another didn’t make it into the line. Those are my prize jeans, the true one of a kind’s.
DB: Wow, that is quite a lot of jeans. I have a couple of sample jeans or ones that didn’t make it to production from some brands which I love too, what sort of wash is your favourite from those ‘prize jeans’ as you call them?
Honestly, there are a few and it often changes, but my current favorites are a slick resin coated “6 month” wear pattern jean with a reverse repair hem from the 2007 Earnest Sewn collection. Another is an over-dyed coated black jean that once had actual high gloss black house paint applied to the seams. But probably my prize jean is a replica of one of the most iconic jeans in history from 1917 that we only made 6 pairs of at a huge expense. It took about 72 hours of repair work per jean to make and it’s really one of the more amazing jeans I’ve ever seen.
DB: That does sound amazing! Thank you Ben!